My Husband Has Committed Adultery. What Should I Do Now?
A betrayal at the deepest level.
My heart hurts so much when I receive emails from wives whose husbands have been unfaithful to them. I can’t even imagine the brokenness they must be feeling inside.
But then I read stories of how our God has redeemed and transformed marriages when the man had turned his life around and he’s seeking to restore his relationship with his wife. I say praise the Lord to this!
Yet, unfortunately, that is not always the case for every wife. While some husbands have ended their affairs, that does not mean they have necessarily sought restoration and reconciliation with their wife. And worse yet, some husbands have repeatedly strayed from the marriage committing one affair after another throughout their marriage.
All the wives of these husbands have sought forgiveness and reconciliation for their marriage yet their men have either emotionally or physically (in a sexual sense) left the marriage.
So the emails keep coming in from wives asking what they should do in this type of situation.
When I read a wife’s email about what has taken place in her marriage the number one thing I’m looking for is where her heart is in respect to her relationship with the Lord. And does she have children?
There’s a reason why God placed the option in His Word for a spouse to leave the marriage if the other was unfaithful…He knew not all spouses would want reconciliation.
So what’s a wife to do if she’s in this situation?
If you (or perhaps someone you know) is dealing with adultery here are some things to consider:
- First, forgiveness as a Believer is paramount! You need to forgive him.
- Second, if your man wants to work on the marriage and if you feel the Lord is leading you to restoration, then walk this path. For some marriages, reconciliation and restoration from an affair will work. But for other marriages it won’t because the husband’s heart is hard towards God and towards his wife.
- If your man is only seeking to skate by in your marriage because he got caught and he doesn’t want to lose his family, yet he’s not looking to truly love you as his wife, then you really need to ask yourself if you want to remain in the marriage for only those reasons. I personally don’t believe those are good enough reasons to stay in a marriage, after all, you are the one who will be doing the work of holding together a loveless relationship.
- You need to ask yourself if it’ll be okay for you to never feel loved by him again.
- Can you let go of the bitterness you have towards him?
- Most importantly, what is your husband’s act of adultery doing to your relationship with the Lord? Is it drawing you away from Christ and causing you to feel bitterness towards the Lord? If it is, my encouragement to you would be for you to step away from the marriage. (Now if your man changes and has a truly repentant heart and you feel over time that the Lord is bringing the two of you together, then seek to restore the relationship!!) Otherwise, walk away from your marriage so you can protect your spiritual well-being. Be careful that you don’t turn your marriage/his unfaithfulness into an idol.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3
Always make sure your relationship with the Lord is your number one concern as you walk this path.
- Now this point is imperative….
What is your husband’s unrepentant, marital infidelity doing to the lives of your children?
When your man is committing sexual immorality throughout your marriage, is that the type of action you want your children to emulate when they’re grown and married? After all, that’s what he’s teaching them.
And what is the unrepentant infidelity teaching them about Jesus Christ? Marriage God’s way is a reflection of the love of Christ towards His bride, the Church.
Will this loveless marriage cause your children to stumble in their faith?
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42
God can redeem any marriage if the two spouses are willing to surrender to Him. Jesus is for reconciliation but that doesn’t mean that both spouses are. One may not care about following the Lord and they’re not willing to submit themselves to the authority of Christ or the Word of God. So they make the decision to leave the marriage. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.”
For adultery, again, God wants reconciliation because He hates divorce as He declares in Malachi 2:16, “I hate divorce!” However, Jesus permits divorce in the case of sexual immorality based on Matt.19:9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Man was the one who created the institution of divorce. This was never God’s plan for the marriage covenant.
Bottom line: You have biblical grounds to leave the marriage. And perhaps you leaving will be a wake-up call for your husband to get right with God ??
For more on my views about divorce, here is a great article from FamilyLife that goes into this topic much more extensively. Personally, I hold to the same Biblical views regarding divorce as FamilyLife.
(If you have a marriage where your husband wants to restore the relationship and God is prompting in your heart to remain in your marriage, here are a few sites of Christian couples that have done just that! These sites are a part of Christian Marriage Bloggers Assoc., a group that I’m affiliated with as well.)
Live a poured out life for Christ,
Need some encouragement and guidance in your marriage? Grab my latest book, Wives of the Bible: 25 Easy Lessons You Can Learn from these Imperfect Women that Will Radically Transform Your Marriage.
I love what Cheryl writes about her marriage. Her story is absolutely riveting and God’s grace shines throughout it. http://www.treasuresfromashoebox.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-i-lost-my-whole-world-and-gained_17.html
Restoration & reconciliation is entirely possible after infidelity. Our story (in a nutshell) is that my wife and I did it against each other – but neither knew for a number of years. We revealed all two years ago because we’d been living in our own personal worlds of shame & guilt, and couldn’t live with it anymore. (For a bit more detail, see “Inner Demons” at the My Beloved Is Mine site (linked above in Jolene’s great post).
I won’t try to tell you it’ll be easy. That would be an outright lie. But when you put the entirety of your trust in Christ (NOT in your spouse), He will help you walk through the ensuing minefield. He will also help you, in due time, to begin to trust your spouse again. Believe me… Tiffani and I have survived, and we are in a GREAT place in our marriage today. We will check off 26 years of marriage in August 2013.
You CAN walk through this, as long as you put your trust in the Lord. Without Him, you will almost surely fail. This battle is far too intense to go it alone. If you are in the middle of this situation now, my heart goes out to you – but I will not write off your marriage. I KNOW better.
Jason, thank you for writing this! I agree with you. And I just want to add that LEAVING your marriage (when God hates divorce) isn’t what will draw your heart back to God if it is becoming hard due to life’s circumstances. We don’t leave our children when they become addicted to drugs. We don’t leave our spouse when a child dies. We understand that life is really really hard sometimes and we push on, moving forward and praying for God to guide us and heal our hearts. What makes marriage and infidelity different? And like Jason, I speak from a place of deep hurt because of infidelity on both sides and if I had left like I wanted, I know for a fact that I would not have experienced the joy and testify to the amazing work God has done in our marriage.
You know I love this particular blog post, because I can relate in so many different ways to it. My husband at that time Cheated on my with a co worker (who at the time this all started was married too) and when I found out about it he had been seeing this other woman for 3 months and when I confronted him about is he promised he was going to stop seeing her… I wanted to make him realize that If he didn’t stop seeing her that he would lose me forever so I decided to go back to utah with my 4 month old son to live there for a bit with my family. right after I left he begged me to come back home to him and because of my pride I told him no and after a week of him begging and me saying no He gave up on me…. Not realizing that because I all I really wanted was for him to come in person and ask me to come back. I made the biggest mistake of my life…. that was in 2011 he came in february 2012 and one thing led to another and I got pregnant with my second son then and he said he wanted a divorce to be with that other girl and because I loved him so much I gave it to him June 2012 we were divorced 6 days after the divorce he got married again and Honestly I never believed it would work…. I am still in love with my ex husband and now he has realized that he is still in love with me and is on his way to getting another divorce and he wants to start over again and take it slow so that I can learn to trust him again, because he wants to marry me again when that trust is back. He says starting to pray and trust in christ again and it gives me hope that maybe that man that I fell in love with in high school is still in there and that there is a very big chance that things with us will be so much better… and I believe god has a hand in making all this happen. Now I understand why when all this stuff was going on I always had this feeling that everything was going to be okay and it will all work out in the end.
Praying for you, Heather!! Please, when walking this out with your husband, please find a biblical counselor. Go to FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember. http://www.intentionallyyours.org/weekend-to-remember-getaway
“You need to ask yourself if it’ll be okay for you to never feel loved by him again?” This has been the hardest one for me. The thing is … he says he loves me but affection is all but gone. We’re both dedicated to working on making us work and we’re in counseling. I believe that it is God’s will that I stay and keep trying. Some days though … I just want to run!
As I read your post, I am in the same boat…My husband says he wants to work it out, he loves me, etc…yet, I don’t feel it from him. We have been in counseling & are going back. I want so much for us to work out. I feel so alone at times & somedays I do want to run!
My story is a sad one and I am not sure it would have a happy ending. I really appreciated this post Jolene posted, it really spoke to me today, as I have been recently separated from my husband who was an assistant pastor.
He confessed seven months ago to multiple affairs and a current affair with a woman he was having feelings for. I thought his confession was a cry for help but it wasn’t and I asked him to leave our family home as he was unrepentant. He has continued to pursue this affair partner and also started another from an online chat room recently.
I have expressed my desire to seek counseling but only one session happened, when the counselor asked to see him alone to speak about his life in more detail, he never returned. He also has made it very clear that he will not return home , if I expect him to pursue repentance and he will return home and to give me any reassurances.
I have sought continued counseling for myself and the kids even now as I have a son and a daughter both under ten years of age. Yes, my faith has been shaken but I the have the support of my church and family. God has been amazing to me and the children as I want to be a great mum. I keep my husband in the childrens’ lives and he has visitation and they spend time with him every other weekend, this keeps them close to their Dad and happy, which means a lot to me.
My husband continues to drift away from God and me and has now asked me for a divorce but I refused, and so he said he would file. This has been a shock for me as its only been seven months since he left but it seems he has been a living double life much longer than I’ve known. hence no return to the family or the marriage or to God. In the mean time I’ll continue to rely on God and keep my trust in him, whatever the outcome.
Replies are welcome.
Jolene, I love your blog, I love how boldly and scripturally you share about submission and marriage. Respectfully, I think you missed the mark with this one. You choose to stay in your marriage when you say “I DO” and make that covenant with God. Jesus is our hope for hardened hearts…as long as you are breathing, there is hope.
My husband was living with his girlfriend, hellbent on divorce. He got it. But GOD met him on his Damascus Road, we are remarried and our marriage is AMAZING and as God designed (well, the best two sinners can do, anyway). You can read our story and listen to our FamilyLife Today interview here: http://www.intentionallyyours.org/scott-sherry/
Our difficult, painful situations and circumstances don’t negate the Word or our covenant. Sometimes separation is needed to be SAFE. But separation does NOT mean divorce.
BE ENCOURAGED: AS LONG AS YOU ARE BREATHING, THERE IS HOPE.
And yes, Sherry, God softened your husband’s hardened heart. And because of that your marriage was restored. As I stated in the post. The purpose of this post is for a wife whose husband’s heart is hard towards her. Again, not all men seek reconciliation. I put links in the post for sites where marriages are seeking restoration.
Jolene, my husband’s heart was hard. He was living with his girlfriend.
In response to my husband’s hard heart, I pursued God relentlessly and walked out 1 Peter 3:1 “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives,”
My husband’s hardened heart was softened over time because I didn’t give up.
His heart was won over by my Christlike character.
In obedience to God’s Word, I honored the marriage covenant: loving, honoring and respecting my husband in sickness, health, richer, poorer, better, worse ’til death do us part.
We’ve counseled SO many women who were told to give up on their marriages because they “deserve better” or because their husbands weren’t interested in reconciliation.
When they chose to walk out God’s Word, honoring their covenant, God honors their faithfulness. Many times that includes reconciliation with a husband whose heart was previously hard. But God. Sometimes it doesn’t include marriage redemption, but God honors her faithfulness in other ways.
Your mission from God remains the same, regardless of your circumstances. God’s Word does not hinge on your circumstance. When you were born, the first mission God has for you is to become Christlike, to be the man/woman He created you to be. Then, when you marry, you accept the next mission, to be the husband/wife God created you to be, fulfilling the purposes of marriage.
God raises dead things to life…God softens hardened hearts…always seek redemption and reconciliation. That’s the Gospel….
The Bible says,
“But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
It was God who wrote these words, not me. The Great I Am put these verses in the Bible for a reason. We’re not God. We don’t know what’s best for every wife. The Word gives direction and the Holy Spirit guides us. A wife should not feel condemned by others if she chooses to follow the Lord’s leading (not to mention His permission) if she walks away from the marriage based on her husband’s adultery. Jesus knows what’s best for her. His Word gives her options and that’s what I tried to point out in my post.
I realize you are passionate about what God has done in your life (and rightfully so!) And that He has called you to minister from the perspective of a restored marriage, hence why I shared links to marriage bloggers whose lives have been transformed by our Redeeming God. But to lump all wives and their situations into one basket, well, according to the Word, that’s not biblical. God gives His daughters options regarding this horrible sin and I think it’s best if we allow the Holy Spirit to move in their lives and not place a yoke of bondage around their necks.
And I’m sure in one way or another I’ve missed the mark on this as well. The Lord knows I miss the mark everyday and I’ll continue to miss the mark until the day I die. But my heart is for women to not walk away from the Lord when their husbands have walked away from their marriages. The relationship that matters the most and the one that comes first is the relationship a woman has with her Maker, not her husband.
I understand your perspective and I hope you can understand mine.
I love that you didn’t take the position that so many Christians take of telling her to stay. I think there is a reason God specifically gave an “out clause” for adultery. A hardened heart is a horrible way to live. But it’s also great that you suggested to work it out if their hearts are supple enough to try because some of the most wonderful marriages I know are those who rebounded from an affair long ago.
We often forget that a lot of times we are not equally yoke. If you are not yoked together by good you will stray away. Also we come into 2 love,somewhere down the line the in fell out of love because when you are equally yoked by God nothing will stray you away(YES you will be tempted but you will not stray)but if you just Love you will. Forgiving is good but if you have to keep wondering and questioning yourself or that person its time to go. We can go back and forth with what the bible says because God does not care for sins but in reality we are going to sin til we die, So forgive and keep praying. Because if God koined you together and not self we nor she will stray.
I just want to say that if God tells you to get married, you do. And if the bad stuff happens, you were warned by the oath you took when you got married for “better or worse”. I hold fast to the fact that I was told to marry my husband. I hold fast the the fact that God begs me to stay. It is so hard and I want other people to know that I hear their cries. I know how hard it is to look forward to … anything. It has torn my family apart, but it happened for a reason. A lot of lies go into a damaged marriage. Not all of them from each other. Many are from outside the marriage and they damage the way a spouse can see you. If God wants you to stay, He will find a way to help you stay. It is hard to hear that it gets better when you can’t see it yet. It is hard to heal you own “soreness of heart”. So, with faith in hand, we go on. Thank you for this site. It has been so good to hear the things that were said.
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